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  Colorful RAINBOWS
Click for Activity Central These rainbow activity plans foster learning about colors in a most enjoyable way!
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Where Do Rainbows Come From?
A 'preschool' explanation.
Rainbows appear on rainy days when the sun is shining.  The sunlight shines on the raindrops in the air and is split up into the Color Spectrum. The colors are always in the same order: red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet.  The primary colors are red, yellow and blue.  The secondary colors are orange, green and violet.  Within these bands of color, there is an infinite number of other colors.  You might have young children make up their own names for these other colors.  Tell children that they can remember the order of the main colors of the rainbow by remembering
ROY G. BV. Each letter stands for a color in the rainbow. "I" for indigo, a tertiary color, is often used between the colors blue and violet for ease in remembering this name.

When you need to recall the colors of the rainbow in sequence just remember:
Roy G. Biv
Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet.

Science Activity   Science: Rainbow Colors
Kate B. helps students understand that sunlight contains all of the colors of the 
rainbow mixed together, but when it hits the water (or raindrops in the sky), 
all the colors are separated.

Materials: Small mirror, & a container full of water.

1.   Place a small mirror in a glass of water and tilt it against the side of the glass.
2.  Stand the glass in direct sunlight so that the mirror reflects a rainbow on the
3.  Name the colors with the children (red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple).
4.  Explain that sunlight contains all of these colors mixed together, but when the
     sunlight hits the water (or raindrops in the sky), all the colors  are separated
     creating a rainbow.

Story Time reading: Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert.

Rainbow Crayons
Maureen M. shares this easy method for making colorful crayons.

Materials: 3 or 4 different color crayons - rainbow colors.

Description: For each child tape 3 or 4 different colors of crayons together to create a rainbow crayon. Encourage the children to use the crayons for drawing. 
Introduce the shape of an arc by showing them how to use the rainbow crayons to draw a rainbow.

easy rainbow artQuick 'n Easy Rainbows
Here's Dawn's  simple technique that promotes color recognition.

Materials: Tempera paint and cardboard cut into squares.

Description: Place a dab of paint (red, blue, yellow, orange, green and purple) on a 
piece of paper.  Sweep the cardboard in a arch.  The cardboard will help create a 
beautiful rainbow!

Making a Rainbow Exercise
Combine stretching and imagination for this large motor activity by Jennie W.

Materials: A Mat

Description:  Sit in a circle and ask the children to straddle their legs.  Then you have them grab their toes on their left foot. Now go around the circle asking the children one at a time to add a color.  After the child states their color, for instance "Blue", you say Sprinkle, Sprinkle, Sprinkle moving your arms above your head in a rainbow arc shape. Work your way to the other side where they grab their toes on the other foot. Continue this around the circle until each child has had a turn to pick a color. This is a great large group activity!

rainbow craft Cereal Rainbows
Youngsters use fine motor control, create their own rainbows and learn about colors during this preschool art & craft activity by Michelle.

Materials: A box of Fruit Loops (or similar cereal), paper, pencil and glue.

Description: For younger children, draw a rainbow (arc) shape on to the paper then have the children glue the fruit loops inside the shape. Older children can make 
their own rainbow (arc) shape, or they can trace it. You may also do this project as a open ended  art activity by allowing the children to make whatever they wish with the fruit loops.

Game: Rainbow Hockey
Young children cooperate with a partner as the participate in this game from
Peggy H. Youngsters use hand eye coordination and discover various colors 
as the ice melts and colors mix.

Materials: Ice cubes that have been frozen with food color in the primary colors
and wide craft sticks.

Description: To reinforce partner play or color mixing and to have a wacky good 
time, let children play Rainbow Ice Hockey.  Children can sit across the table 
from each other.  Each child has a different colored ice cube.  They take turns 
pushing the ice cubes across the table to their partner using their craft sticks. As the ice melts, the colors will leave trails on the table and eventually mix.  Stop the play occasionally to notice the different colors that are forming.  You can either cover the whole table with white paper or just put a piece of white paper in front of each child. 

1.  Another way to do this is to let the children sprinkle the primary colors of dry      tempera paint on their paper and use uncolored ice cubes.  As the ice melts on the dry paint, the colors form and mix.  The children really enjoy this activity. It seems like it would be messy, but really isn't.

2.  We also like to sprinkle powder tempera paint onto shaving cream. It absorbs the wetness of the shaving cream and you can watch the colors form as you use your hands to mix them together. Make sure that the shaving cream doesn't get into little
eyes, it stings.

Science Activity  Science: Rainbows In a Jar
Youngsters observe how colors blend together to make new colors during this
preschool activity suggested by Felicity and also by Sherry M.

Materials: Tall plastic jars (spaghetti jars are great), water to fill jar - this activity works best if the water is allowed to sit for a day, small amount of cooking oil, food colors and eyedroppers.

Description: Fill jars almost to top, then add about 1 inch cooking oil. Talk about oil and water not mixing and how we should never place cooking oils down our sinks to pollute the waterways. Slowly drop food colors on top of the oil explaining to children that it will take some time for the colors to 'push through' the cooking oil. 

Wait a couple of minutes watching the droplets, then watch the children's expressions as the food color droplets 'explode' as they reach the water. The effect is like fireworks! Then preschoolers sit at the science table, so they can do their own experiments. 

Comments: It's cheap and simple.  Wonderful outdoors as well as inside the classroom. As jars become murky, simply tip into the garden and start over again!
I have done this activity with children from 3 years old to 12 years old and it's 
always a big hit!

Science Activity   Science: Rainbows In Milk
Children observe colors explode in milk during this activity from Felicity.

Materials: Shallow rectangular dish, enough milk to cover the base of the dish about one inch deep, strong dishwashing detergent (small amount), and food coloring in the colors of the rainbow.

Description: Organize the children into a circle, so they can all see clearly. 
Pour milk into the dish, so that it covers up to about 1 inch deep. Tell the children,
"I know how to make rainbows in the milk".  Then pour a couple of drops of food color into the milk, "Is this a rainbow yet?  No, but just watch". Then slowly drop a couple of drops of dishwashing liquid onto the food color and watch the colors explode!  Keep adding colors and liquid to enthrall your preschoolers. Mine just love this activity!

Comments: Great for a wet winter's day. What a success!

Rainbow songThe Rainbow Song
Alison R. contributes this easy to sing song about the many colors of the rainbow and says, "We actually turned the song into a book and it is a great reinforcement of the colors".

Sing to the tune of 
"Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star"

                 Red and orange, green and blue,
                 Shiny yellow, purple too.
                 All the colors that we know
                 Live up in the rainbow.
                 Red and orange, green and blue,
                 Shiny yellow, purple too!

Math: Graphing a Rainbow
Youngsters gain experience making and reading a graph while they make choices during this early childhood math activity from Peggy H.

Materials: Chart tablet; precut circles of the colors of the rainbow.

Description: This activity can take many forms.  It is an early graphing activity that  lets children practice name recognition, color recognition and making choices.  It can be extended to practice counting concepts of more than / less than, most and least. 

Begin by showing a picture of a rainbow or use playdough rainbows the children make or a felt rainbow the teacher made etc.  Have the children name the colors.  Then have each child say what color is her or his favorite.  Record all the responses on a chart tablet by writing the child's name and the color word (in its own color).  Then let each child find a colored circle of the color that he or she said was his / her favorite. Write the child's name on it, and place it on a pre made graph:
   Favorite Colors
            red        o  o  o
            yellow     o  o
            green      o
            blue       o  o  o  o
            violet     o  o  o

Children can compare how many children like what color and count each row to see 
 most / least, etc. 

Extension: This activity can be extended by giving each child or group of children a baggie with skittles candy and having them graph the colors as a group.  They can count and compare numbers of each color and then figure out how to share the candy and eat it!

Rainbow Mobile
Jamie R. shares this early learning activity that focuses on the different colors of the rainbow. 

Materials: 1 paper plate, rainbow watercolors, string, hole puncher and yarn.

Description: Cut off the edge of a paper plate (about an inch from the rim). 
Draw an outline of a rainbow on both sides of the paper plate.  Have children paint their rainbows with different colors using the watercolor paint. Punch a hole at the top of the plate and pull yarn through so you can hang it.  If you want you could also tape rainbow colored streamers to the bottom of the rainbow. 

Comments: I used this activity to introduce colors as well as focus on science.  What is a rainbow and where does it come from?

Cooking: Rainbow Toast
Young children create a Rainbow for breakfast during this cooking activity by
Beth G.

Materials: Butter, bread, milk, small cups, food coloring the colors of the rainbow,, cotton swabs and a toaster oven.

Description: Put a small amount of milk in four cups and add the food coloring. 
Take some bread and allow the children to spread butter on the bread. Next, place
the cotton swabs in the cups and encourage the children to create a rainbow by painting their bread.
Help each child carefully place his or her bread in the toaster oven.  Children love to eat food that they have made.

Cooking: Rainbow Fruit Salad
Michelle E. encourages cooperation, healthy eating and reinforces the colors of the rainbow with this cool cooking activity.

Materials: Large bowl, small bowls, spoons and forks plus one fruit selection for each color of the rainbow.

 Description: Have children pour in fruit according to the order of the colors of the rainbow.. Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple. Such as:  red - strawberries, orange - mandarin oranges, yellow - pineapple, green - honeydew melon, blue- blueberries and purple - "red" grapes. Explain that you are making a "rainbow of fruit" and also that fruit is healthy for the body.  If desired, you may mix the salad or leave in in the color pattern. Spoon out the salad and enjoy a healthy snack!

Comments: I send notes home asking for the parents to send in the fruits. The 
children enjoy bringing in the items for the salad as well as making and eating it.

Literacy: "A Rainbow of My Own"
Peggy H. encourages youngsters to listen to a story, discuss the story and to use their imagination to create a class book.

Materials: The book A Rainbow of My Own by Don Freeman (or another book about rainbows), paper and markers.

Description: Read the book in the funniest way possible and anticipate the story by asking "Have you ever seen a rainbow?". Comment as you read the book so that the children are sure to notice the fun the boy and his rainbow have together. Invite the children to imagine they have a rainbow like the child in the story.  What would they do with their rainbow?  Many of them will simply repeat what the boy in the story did.  That's okay, the more they do this type of activity the better they will be at thinking up their own ideas.  Record each child's response on a piece of art paper.  Later, have each child illustrate the page they dictated.  Then bind them all together for a wonderful class book about Me and My Rainbow.

Comments: If you find that children really just echo the previously heard idea, 
you might want to take the dictation in small groups or one by one so that each 
child has the chance to think of ideas on his or her own. 

Rainbow Hands Rainbow Hands
Sarah fosters color recognition and group cooperation with this sensory experience for preschoolers.

Materials: A large piece of white craft paper and each color of the rainbow paint. 

Description: Ask each child to paint his or her hand one of the colors of the rainbow. Then put their hand (as in stamping) on the craft paper several times in a row.
Continue with the next child with the next rainbow color. Display the group rainbow and remind children that everyone took part in it's creation.

Rainbow Mosaic
During this art activity from Leslie youngsters cooperate and use fine motor skills.

Materials: Large outline of a rainbow, scraps of paper in the colors of the rainbow.

Description: Have the children work together to cover the outline of the rainbow 
with the paper scraps. A few children can work on one of the colors while another group is working on another color. One color can be done a daily until the rainbow is complete or the  work could be done all together.

Comments: The children love working together and seeing the finished project. It makes a great display!

Rainbow Hearts
During this early childhood activity by Sharon S. youngsters use fine motor skills, eye hand coordination and creativity. Try using this activity for Valentine's Day.

Materials: Construction paper heart, small squares of rainbow colored tissue 
paper, water bottle or eye dropper.

Description: This is a beautiful project that is very easy to do. Children 
simply place small squares of tissue paper on the heart and spray with water 
bottle or drop water on with an eye dropper. If children are very young, you might
want to have them brush the heart with water first and then place tissue paper 
on. It takes just a few moments to dry and the colors run off of the tissue 
paper onto the heart instantly. When its dry take the tissue paper off and you 
have a wonderful rainbow, or tie-dye heart!

Salty Rainbows
Cristina shares this recipe for creating Rainbows.

Ingredients:  Elmers glue, paint brushes, card stock or cardboard in the shape of a rectangle or arch, rainbow watercolors, salt, lots of salt (enough for children to pour on),  A dishpan and eyedroppers.

Description: Children paint the cardboard using the elmers glue in the shape of an
arch. The children then put it in the dishpan and scoop the salt over it, allow to dry.
Using eyedroppers children can drop colors on the salt.  Using the colors of  the rainbow.  You can talk about how the colors blend, the different texture that the salt provides etc.

Science Activity  Rainbow In A Dish
Elaine M. suggests this observation and investigation activity when children learn about colors.

Materials: Glass or clear plastic pie plate or shallow dish, mild dish detergent and
food coloring, red, yellow and blue.

Description: Fill the plate or dish with mild detergent, about ½ full.  Next, add dish
detergent (several drops).  Add 2 drops of red, yellow and blue food coloring. These drops should be placed away from the center of the dish.  Now watch the colors swirl and begin to mix.  Add a few more drops of dish detergent if not working quickly.

rainbows and music Rainbow Colors
This circle time activity begins with color recognition and ends with movement.

You will need:
Crepe paper in assorted colors, record player/tape recorder and instrumental music.

Teachers, in advance cut 2 foot long streamers from crepe paper.  Near the end of circle time give each child a streamer and ask him / her to identify the color.  If a child doesn't know the color ask another child to help him/her name the color.  Then ask all the children with the same color streamers to stand together.

After all the children are standing in color groups put on an instrumental music selection and encourage all of the children to wave their rainbow color as they slowly dance or move around the classroom.  Teachers can join in!

When the movement time/dance is almost over, slowly lower the volume of the music and let the children tip toe to their next activity as they place their streamers in a storage container.

colorful rainbows Art Activity: Painting Rainbows
During this early childhood activity young children use fine motor skills as the create a colorful rainbow (representation).

You will need: 
White craft paper, newspaper, tape,  paint brushes, small containers of water, felt tip markers, watercolor paint / diluted tempra, paper napkins (optional)

Teachers let children cover a low table with newspaper and fill small containers with water.  Cover the table with white craft paper.  It may help to secure the craft paper with a little tape.

Next children brush water across the craft paper.  Then brush paint colors in a wide are to create the rainbow. Make certain to rinse the brushes in water before continuing with the next rainbow color.  The colors will blend by flowing into each other on the white craft paper.

After the rainbow paintings are completely dry children can draw birds, clouds etc. over the rainbows.

Story time:  Read a book about rainbows The Rainbow Goblins by Ul De Rico.

Rainbow Scavenger Hunt
During this activity Suzan G.  promotes color recognition and sorting as she encourages young children to look for items within their homes that represent the 6 colors of the rainbow.

Materials: Plastic ziplock bags, 6 baskets.

Description: Give each child a plastic ziplock bag. Tell them they need to search their homes for simple items that represent the colors of the rainbow.  Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue and Purple. When they bring their bags back to school have a basket sitting out for each color. (you can have baskets that are the same colors of the rainbow or just cut a circle from colored paper and have 
 it attached to each basket).

As a group activity talk about the pattern a rainbow "always" follows and how the rain and sun play a very big role in the making of  a rainbow. Let each child take a turn putting their items in the appropriate basket.  Afterwards treat the children to rainbow sherbet ice cream for a job well done!

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